Let’s get ready to rumbleeeeeee!!!
Director: Ryan Coogler. Cast: Michael B Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Tony Bellew. Genre: Sports drama. Running Time: 122 minutes. Budget: $35 million. Rating: UK (12A), USA (PG-13)
They say good things come to those who wait. On May 2 2015, after five overdrawn years Floyd Mayweather finally faced Manny Pacquiao in a bout billed as the biggest fight of the century. The match turned out to be a massive disappointment as it failed miserably to live up to the hype.
Fortunately the same cannot be said of Creed as it’s definitely worth the wait. The Rocky sequel/spin-off was announced back in July 2013 and boxed its way into cinemas two years later, with anyone living in the UK having to until early 2016 to see the film. But unlike Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, Creed won’t disappoint.
If you’ve seen the stirring true life drama Fruitvale Station, you’ll know two things: debuting director Ryan Coogler is supremely talented and Michael B Jordan is an equally gifted actor. Creed firmly solidifies both Coogler and Jordan’s reputations as the dynamite director and leading man duo once again produces something special.
Creed sees Jordan play Adonis ‘Donnie’ Johnson, the illegitimate son of legendary deceased former heavyweight champion Apollo Creed. Eager to live away from the shadow of his famous father’s legacy, Donnie keeps his heritage hidden from the world. The raw but talented self-trained boxer reveals his secret to a certain Mr Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) in the hopes that the rival-turned-friend of his father will take him under his wing. With the ageing Italian Stallion in his corner, Donnie sets out to discover if he has the true heart of a fighter, while Rocky faces an opponent much tougher than he’s faced in the ring.
Coogler, who originally pitched the idea to Stallone, ensures Creed is pure movie-going pleasure as just like the original Rocky did back in 1976, he blends compelling drama with stunning boxing sequences to make a tasty cocktail.
There’s a reason why boxing is the most cinematic of all sports. Watching two blokes trade blows in is something of a thrill and Creed definitely delivers some awesome boxing action. In the mesmerising first fight scene, the camera circles round Donnie and his opponent in a Birdman-like single take which totally immerses you into the ring.
Thanks to Coogler and Aaron Covington’s excellent script, the drama is as riveting as the fight scenes. Whether it’s the mentor/student bond between Donnie and Rocky or Donnie’s sparky romance with his singing new neighbour Bianca (Tessa Thompson), the character dynamics work splendidly thanks to some knockout performances.
Jordan, who looks super shredded for the role, further proves he’s a movie star in the making (Fantastic Four aside) as he flexes his acting muscles to give plenty of emotional range. The determined Donnie isn’t just a raging bull as Jordan adds enough sincerity, naivety and charisma to make Adonis an underdog hero who you just can’t help but root for.
Thompson also impresses in a role which could have easily just been a bland love interest. The depth and spirit shown by the Dear White People actress make Bianca a perfect romantic sparring partner for Jordan.
It’s Stallone who steals the show as he gives a subtlety moving performance which is on par with his Oscar nominated turn in the very first Rocky. For a long time Sly’s been best known for unleashing barrages of machine gun fire in uber-macho roles, but the mixture of loneliness, wisdom and warmth he brings to Creed will remind people of his underrated dramatic chops. Even though he doesn’t step into the ring, Stallone’s Rocky is still the people’s champ.
Similarly to another recent seventh installment to a beloved film series, Creed brings together new and old faces in a way that will delight both franchise fans and newcomers alike. But just like The Force Awakens did with the original Star Wars trilogy, Creed leans a little too heavily on story elements from the previous Rocky films. If parts of the plot were a little more independent and unique, Creed would pack an even more powerful punch.
Also the clichés of a boxing movie (slow motion knockdowns, training montages and the televised final fight) all make their “necessary” appearances.
Still, just like Episode VII, Creed’s unoriginality is entirely forgivable as Coogler ensures that even if you’ve seen it before, you’ll enjoy what you see. His skilled direction and the one-two combo of Stallone and Jordan give an ageing franchise a beautiful burst of energy which means Creed will be a big hit on the big screen. An undisputed winner that will no doubt leave you waiting for round 2, Creed scores a:
1ish – 2ish Stay away at ALL costs!!!
3ish – 4ish A bad film, not Michael Jackson Bad, but just straight up bad
5ish – 6ish Probably worth seeing at some point
7ish – 8ish A fantastic film definitely worth watching whenever you can
9ish -10 Unmissable – go watch it now!!!
Check out the trailer here:
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